In his role as executive director of the Rochester Area Builders, John Eischen is dedicated to supporting and promoting regional building, construction, and design. He is a Rochester native, an award-winning home brewer (he is the founder of “Golden Child Brewery”), and an advocate for encouraging more young people to pursue the viable and lucrative career opportunities that exist in the building industry.
DMC reached out to Eischen to learn more about the purpose of the Rochester Area Builders and the impact he is already seeing DMC make in Rochester.
DMC: What path brought you to your current position with the Rochester Area Builders?
Eischen: I began my career with Fullerton Lumber in Rochester in 1991. The next ten years brought a transfer to the Clinton, IA store for management training and a move to the Beaver Dam, WI location where I worked as the branch manager until 2001 when we decided it was time to move back to home to Rochester. I was working for Olmsted County Lumber Mart in Byron when a friend who was serving on the Program Committee for the Rochester Area Builders (RAB) suggested I join the group to get to know builders in the area. In 2007, I joined the RAB board and was serving on the board when my predecessor announced she was retiring after 25 years. The foolish lumberyard guy in me said, “Sure, I’ll take over for a legend,” and in December 2010, I was hired as the Executive Director of Rochester Area Builders, Inc.
DMC: What are some of your top priorities in your position for 2018?
Eischen: Our top priority is to always provide an environment in which our members can be successful.
We do that by:
- Providing opportunities for them to network with each other to build relationships;
- Promoting our single-family home builders and single-family ownership with the Spring and Fall Showcase of Homes;
- Promoting the remodeling industry with the Remodelers Tour;
- Assisting the Builders Association of Minnesota and their advocating efforts at the state level regarding building code and other legislation that affects our industry;
- Continuing to expand our job shadow program with area school district that provides young men and women to explore career opportunities in the industry; and
- Working with local city’s administration and elected leaders to provide insight and expertise as they make decisions on policy that affects current and future homeowners, renters, and business owners.
Oh, and we try hard to make sure our members have some fun when they’re not all working so hard.
DMC: What sets Rochester apart from other cities of its size?
Eischen: I grew up in a Rochester of fifty-some-thousand people before moving to a city of around 30,000 and then to one of around 15,000, but I love the City of Rochester today and look forward to the future. It is exciting to live in a growing community and see all the possibilities that exist here!
DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?
Eischen: Medicine is what defines Rochester, and we are already seeing the effects of [the DMC] initiative. New businesses are thriving and existing businesses are expanding. Entrepreneurs will come to the area and help diversify our economy. The increase in economic activity that results from DMC will bring more spaces, events, and activities for everyone to enjoy. From an event standpoint, we are seeing a tremendous increase in the variety of activities that are available for our community to enjoy – literally every day of the week. If someone says there is nothing to do here, they aren’t looking. At all.
DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, or raising a family in America’s City for Health?
Eischen: My wife (and high school sweetheart) and I moved back to Rochester because it’s home. We wanted to raise our family here. When my daughter had heart surgery, there was no other place we would have wanted to be. My youngest daughter is graduating from Century this year, and I think the local school district is wonderful. We do need to figure out how to bring industrial arts, or “shop class” for us old folks, back into our schools, but that’s another column for another time. For those who want to live in smaller communities, there are several that are just a short distance from Rochester. “The Cities” are a short drive from Rochester. Whitewater State Park is a short distance away. Because Rochester is truly “in the middle of everywhere,” our opportunities to live, work, and play are endless.